This week’s headlines: Israel joins the legal front in the battle for its heart * The Tal law and service equality saga continues * Former Prime Minister Olmert’s Nine Lives.

The Edmund Levi Report: Israel Joins the Legal Battle

For many years, Israel has ignored the legal front in the battle being waged between Jews and Arabs over the heart of Israel: Judea and Samaria. There has always been more than one opinion over the legal status of what the left calls “The Occupied Territories”, otherwise known as Judea and Samaria or in international-speak: The West Bank.

The Arabs and the Left have claimed that Israel’s presence in what used to be the Biblical land of the kings of the house of David is illegal according to international law. They base their claims on a report formulated by attorney Talia Sasson. Sasson is an extreme-left activist and a member of the Meretz party.

The question of the legality of settlements has resurfaced lately, after another extreme-left organization, “Peace Now” have been systematically filing lawsuits in the Supreme Court, demanding that specific settlements be dismantled.

Prime Minister Netanyahu formed a committee a few months ago, headed by Supreme Justice Edmund Levi, in order to examine the legal status of the Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria.

Levi’s committee handed in its report this week. No one was surprised when the report concluded that the Israeli settlements are in fact legal, stemming from the fact that Judea and Samaria are not, in fact, occupied territories, as they were taken from Jordan in 1967, after Jordan itself had illegaly occupied the territories following the British retreat in 1948.

Responses to this report in the press were not surprising either. While the Right has endorsed the report wholeheartedly, the left has rejected it, claiming that Levi, a Supreme Court justice, was biased towards the right from the start (the opposite could, of course, be claimed about the Sasson report). Now, all that remains is to see whether Netanyahu has the guts to defy the Left, endorse the Levi report and to base Israeli policy on it.

The Saga Continues- Equality in Service or the Worst of Sins?

As the deadline for finding a replacement for the Tal law draws near, tensions are rising on all sides. The Plesner committee, charged with coming up with a draft for a new law which would force the Ultra-Orthodox community to enlist in the IDF, was terminated, after representatives of all parties except Likud and Kadima had left the committee.

Plesner himself handed in his report last week anyway. There have been reports of negotiations among the various parties, not including the Ultra-Orthodox themselves, about legislation which is to be based on the Plesner report.

Meanwhile, on Saturday night, the “Israeli Forum for Equal Service” movement joined forces with the Israeli “Occupy” movement in a mass demonstration that took place in Rabin Square in Tel-Aviv, calling for the Ultra-Orthodox community to contribute its fair share to society.

The Ultra-Orthodox community, on the other hand, has mixed feelings on the matter. There are some who quietly look forward to change that will allow them to take part in Israeli society. However, some Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis went as far as to equate enlistment in the IDF to the three most heinous sins in Judaism: incest, bloodshed and idolatry. According to Jewish law, one must avoid these three sins, even at the cost of one’s own life.

This issue is a core issue in Israeli society and the biggest bone of contention between Ultra-Orthodox and non-Ultra-Orthodox Israelis.

Olmert’s Nine Lives

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stepped down from his position in September of 2008 after he was suspected in no less than 8 different cases of corruption. Yesterday he was convicted of breach of trust, an offense punishable by up to three years in prison, but acquitted of all other charges in three of these cases. Olmert’s personal assistant, Shula Zaken, was also convicted of a number of corruption offenses.

Olmert’s personal assistant, Shula Zaken. Photo: Screenshot from Ynet (Yediot Ahronot) coverage of the verdict.

However, most of the Israeli media celebrated this and framed the conviction as a great victory for a Prime Minister who was wronged by the Attorney General. One paper, Yediot Ahronot, which is owned by a close friend of Olmert’s went as far as to call for Attorney General Lador’s resignation.

Olmert embraces his attorneys. Photo: Screenshot from Ynet (Yediot Ahronot) coverage of the verdict.

It is sad to see a corrupt Prime Minister. It is even sadder to see a media so corrupt that it will defend him unconditionally, only because he holds the same political views as the reporters and is a friend of their boss.

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3 comments

  1. […] former Prime Minister Olmert’s conviction and some of the Israeli media’s responses in yesterday’s post. I shared this photo of the front page of “Yediot Ahronot”  with my Hebrew readers […]

  2. […] written a lot about the Ultra-Orthodox community in previous posts, and as promised, the time has come to set things straight about the various religious groups […]

  3. […] running the organization together, the two of them decided to go into politics. Shaked headed the committee on drafting the Ultra-Orthodox community and has been the author of a number of rightwing bills, including one version of a recent bill […]

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